Saturday Preview - Week 12
|Ohio State at Michigan Noon ABC|
Line: Ohio State -4.5
Despite both teams coming into this year's rivalry having lost last week, there is still a lot on the line in Saturday's Big Game. The Buckeye's national title hopes were dashed last week with a home loss to Illinois, but the winner of this game will still get a berth to the Rose Bowl and a Big Ten Championship. On the other hand, the seniors for Michigan have one last shot to beat hated Ohio State. Chad Henne, Mike Hart, and Jake Long have gone 0-3 in their careers against the Buckeyes. After missing last week, Henne and Hart are no doubt going to play on Saturday. There are also rumors abound that Lloyd Carr will be announcing his retirement at year's end after this weekend. If true, what better way for Carr to ride off into the sunset after such a turbulent season by beating Ohio State and earning a trip to the Rose Bowl. The Buckeyes can't afford another lackluster performance like last week from QB Todd Boeckman who threw 3 picks in the loss to Illinois. Both teams will be angry and with the storylines one would have to give Michigan the emotional edge, but you'd be hard pressed to find a better big game coach than OSU's Jim Tressel. It won't live up to the classic game we had last year, but Saturday's contest will provide plenty of magic.
BTC Prediction: Ohio State 27 Michigan 24
Northwestern at Illinois Noon ESPN
Line: Illinois -13.5
Illinois can not afford a letdown after pulling off what many thought was impossible last week and beating #1 Ohio State in Columbus. Illini QB Juice Williams came up huge in the win and settled the quarterback controversy once and for all. With a win in the season finale, Illinois would likely be headed to either the Capital One Bowl or the Outback Bowl depending on the outcome of the OSU-Michigan game. The Chronicle currently has the Illini headed to the Capital One Bowl and matched up against Ron Zook's former Florida Gators. Northwestern is also coming off a big win last week as they disposed of Indiana to reach six wins and technically become bowl eligible. However, with all but Minnesota likely reaching six wins this season, the Wildcats will need to pull off the road upset Saturday to secure a bowl bid. With a win, Northwestern would probably be headed to the Motor City Bowl, but a loss and they'll be sitting at home over bowl season. This game means more to Northwestern, but as long as Illinois can keep its focus and save the Bowl talk for after the game they should have no problem running it up on the Wildcat's defense.
BTC Prediction: Illinois 35 Northwestern 20
Penn State at Michigan State 3:30 ABC
Line: Penn State -2.5
Penn State still has an outside chance at reaching a New Year's Day bowl, while Michigan State needs a win to reach 7 and lock up a bowl berth. Even with a loss on Saturday, it appears safe to say that the Spartans will go bowling, with the Motor City Bowl being the likely destination. Michigan State will definitely be more attractive to send to Ford Field in Detroit than the other six win Big Ten teams. The Nittany Lions manhandled Temple last week on the road, but that was Temple and the Spartan running attack seems to be back at full speed. MSU RB Javon Ringer can break it at any time and will test Penn State's excellent linebacker group. Last week's win at Purdue was a huge step towards Mark Dantonio's goal of changing the culture in East Lansing. Previous MSU teams would have packed it in for the season after a devastating loss like they had to Michigan, but these Spartans are more focused.
BTC Prediction: Michigan State 24 Penn State 21
Purdue at Indiana 3:30 BTN
Line: Purdue -2
Purdue heads into Bloomington for the annual battle for the Old Oaken Bucket carrying a five game winning streak over the Hoosiers. The Boilermakers sit at 7-4 with a bowl bid all but a certainty. Indiana blew a chance to reach six wins last weekend at Northwestern, and they likely need a win over Purdue to secure a "13th Game". This rivalry has not been very competitive in recent years with a Purdue victory almost a foregone conclusion, but this year's battle has the makings of being a classic. The Boiler's defense was shredded last week in their loss to Michigan State, and most teams have had problems this year containing Indiana QB Kellen Lewis. The Hoosier's will also be wearing 1967 throwback jerseys to honor the 1967 Rose Bowl team. With the Old Oaken Bucket and a bowl bid on the line for IU this game has bigger implications for them. The Purdue offense will strike early and often, but Indiana will squeak it out in a shootout.
BTC Prediction: Indiana 38 Purdue 37
Wisconsin at Minnesota 3:30 BTN
Line: Wisconsin -14
Wisconsin comes into this year's battle for the Paul Bunyan Axe with a New Year's Day bowl on their minds. After their impressive win over Michigan last weekend that is still a possibility, but a trip to the Alamo Bowl seems to be more probable. With the Big Ten likely to only get one team into a BCS bowl, that leaves only two other spots for New Year's Day, the Capital One and Outback bowls. Those will probably be filled by Illinois and the loser of the OSU-Michigan game. With that being said Wisconsin needs to take care of business at Minnesota to keep any hopes of playing in January alive. It will help to get RB P.J. Hill back this week just in time for him to take aim at a terrible Gopher run defense. Minnesota's run defense is ranked 112th in nation and facing a healthy P.J. Hill will only make that worse. Things could not have gone worse for Gopher coach Tim Brewster in his first year at the helm, and it will be very interesting to see if he is given enough time to turn things around.
BTC Prediction: Wisconsin 38 Minnesota 21
Western Michigan at Iowa 3:30 BTN
Line: Iowa -14
After starting the Big Ten schedule with three straight losses, the Iowa Hawkeyes have won three straight and four of their last five to catapult themselves back into bowl contention. A win over Western Michigan would put the Hawkeyes at 7-5 and most likely send them packing to the Insight Bowl in Tempe, AZ. Any bowl would be a major accomplishment for this Iowa team, and after the way the season started this may be one of Kirk Ferentz's best coaching performances. However, things are not without controversy this week as off-field problems continue to brew in Iowa City. News broke yesterday that an investigation is ongoing into claims of sexual assault involving three Iowa football players. Obviously the last thing any Hawkeye fan wants to hear as their team plays for a bowl berth on Saturday.
BTC Prediction: Iowa 27 Western Michigan 17